Sunday 18 January 2015

Je Suis Israel?

The huge outpouring of sympathy and shock over the past week following the terror attacks in France is entirely understandable.  The French people have not experienced an attack on their republic in this way, probably since the storming of the Bastille in 1789.  The reason why this represents a threat that is different from the various wars that the French have fought on their home territory over the years, is because this attack comes from within France, and not from outside of her borders.  The sight of native French speakers explaining that they follow the doctrines of Al Qaeda, Islamic State and other extremist Muslim groups has dismayed the average Frenchman, and even many within the huge French Muslim community.

The French (and the international community) came out in an immediate response to show their support for the Charlie Hebdo publication, which is also an expression of their support for freedom as demonstrated by a free press.   One could almost hear the cries of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.  Millions of Frenchmen made their statement in the presence of leaders from the international community in opposition to the attack on their freedom, and protested against Islamic extremism that was behind these latest attacks and many others.  The war on Islamic extremism is on the lips of people around the world, including the leaders of the most influential western countries.  Despite this fact, we saw Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lining up with the world leaders at the protest rally in  Paris, in one of the most visible positions in the front row of the protest.  Many have questioned why a leader, who has been so closely associated with terror attacks over the years, could have been allowed to be in the front line of a demonstration to protest against exactly this

The organisation that was originally established in 1964 to represent the so-called Palestinian Arabs, was the Palestine Liberation Organisation (the PLO).  Current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was one of the founders of the PLO.  The stated objective of the PLO was the "liberation of Palestine through armed struggle".  This armed struggle turned out to include hijacking aeroplanes and cruise liners, as well as kidnapping and killing people without any sympathy or regard for the value of human life.  Despite being a stated pan-Arab organisation, many of its Arab colleagues expelled the leadership of the PLO from their countries as a way of opposing the means of terror that they used to pursue their agenda.  This same PLO forms the backbone of the Fatah party that makes up the modern-day Palestinian Authority.  Since his death, it has been publicly recognised that former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was orchestrating a campaign of terror and violence even while standing on the lawns of the White House, and receiving a Nobel Peace Prize.  Now that Abbas has signed a unity agreement with Hamas, a party that is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation in the USA, Europe and elsewhere, surely the evidence of his terror connections is as clear as ever.  And yet, he is seen leading an anti-terror march through the streets of Paris.  How is it possible that the world does not connect the terror that he is involved with, to the terror that is being experienced around the world?

Prime Minister Netanyahu has long been trying to draw this link in a way that the international community can understand, and is willing to understand.  He has described the terror that is being experienced in France, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere around the world as a different branch of the same tree when compared to the terror that Israel is forced to contend with on a daily basis.  The money to fund these activities is coming from common sources, and the organisations that are providing the arms and the impetus to carry out the attacks are the same.  The penny, however, refuses to drop.  When in France, the prime minister tried again to draw the connection to link the fresh wounds being felt by the French to gaping wounds felt constantly in Israel.  Everybody is rallying around the slogans "Je suis Charlie Hebdo" and "Je Suis Juif".  Why not "Je Suis Israel"?

Much of this stems from the fact that the Palestinians have succeeded in garnering public sympathy for their cause beyond the level that is justified.  While it is certainly true that many innocent civilians amongst the Palestinians are deserving of our sympathy and support, it is equally true that their misery has largely been caused by their own leaders.  The Palestinian leadership has ensured that those who were instructed to run from their homes when the State of Israel was declared in 1948 (despite requests by the Israeli government for them to stay), have remained refugees for more than 6 decades.  This has been designed to ensure that this issue remains a thorn in the side of the international community, in an attempt to milk any sympathy and support that can be gained.  The original 700,000 refugees have turned into a problem affecting 5 million people today.  All of this, linked to the fact that the peace talks to achieve a two-state solution have not progressed at all, have generated a certain sympathy for the Palestinian cause.  This sympathy has somehow been translated into justification for the acts of terror committed against Israel.  It is almost as if Israel is considered to deserve the terror it receives, because of the ongoing inability to reach a satisfactory compromise solution to create a Palestinian state.  It is almost as if Israel deserves whatever terror she is forced to endure, simply because she insists that any agreement for a two-state solution will ensure her security in future years.  It seems as though terror is only terror when it is not directed towards Israel.  Israeli-style terror seems entirely justified, in the eyes of the international community, as a fight for freedom or a fight against the so-called occupation.

What makes this even more absurd is when the Palestinians take complaints to the International Criminal Court, charging Israel of war crimes that are alleged to have been committed in an operation to protect her future existence and the safety of her citizens.  How can it be that prosecutors in The Hague are even spending a minute examining these claims?  After living through incessant rocket fire directed towards innocent civilians for years, surely Israel is entitled to eventually strike back to protect her innocent citizens?  And when doing so, if she takes every precaution to prevent civilian deaths despite the ongoing efforts of the Palestinians to throw civilians in the path of the military crossfire, should it not be the Palestinians who are accused of war crimes?

The branches of the same tree referred to by Prime Minister Netanyahu are certainly not of equal size and weight.  Israel has been forced to endure terror attacks for years, which have been randomly carried out against any and all sectors of her society.  Without meaning to dilute the enormity of attacks carried out and lives lost in the process, terror attacks elsewhere in the world have been of a much lower number and intensity than those that Israel has been forced to endure.  Despite this, there is the commonly-held view that Israel has somehow invited these attacks, and that they are justified.

The fact that Palestinians have been offered the opportunity to set up their own state in Gaza and the West Bank, the conditions of which far exceed the starting point that the State of Israel was offered 66 years ago, seems to be ignored.  The Jewish people demonstrated what is possible when there are good and true intentions to build a country and a nation, even with scraps to start with.  Out of these scraps, a prosperous country has been built which holds her own and takes up a justifed position in the family of nations.

The world's lack of link between the Islamic extremists operating in Israel, and those operating elsewhere, will be at its peril.  Israel has become a world leader in combating terror, and has experience and expertise that other countries will be needing in due course.  Ignoring or diluting the terror threat that Israelis constantly live under, will not give Israel much incentive to join in to assist others who suddenly discover the real nature of this plague.

Je Suis Israel!

1 comment:

Margaret Rothschild said...

Well put, Anthony!